Urban farming trend in Indonesian hotel: hydroponic, rooftop gardens

The last few years has seen growing interest in urban farming especially in big cities in many parts of the world. The increasing awareness on the importance of self-reliance in food production as we are facing the big question on ‘how to feed the growing world population’ has turned many people to be more proactive. Backyard gardens, vacant lands, empty rooftop areas, wasted corners have been converted to food crops garden in many countries. In Indonesia, such movement is starting to take place as well at many levels. One notable urban farming movement is ‘Indonesia Berkebun’ (Indonesia Urban Gardening Movement), a movement which aims to promote community run farming in urban vacant lands. It encourages public to grow food crops on such lands that later can be harvested for individual consumption. Largely capitalizing on the power of social media and internet, this movement has spread to thirty big cities. On top of that, eight universities in Indonesia have come on board.

Hotel industry is starting to jump on the bandwagon as well. Urban farming after all is such a practical reality for the industry. In the hotels context, hydroponic planting system seems to be the preferred way of doing it. The soilless planting system is not only space saving but it is also water and time saving.

One hotel in Jogjakarta in fact has integrated a hydroponic garden into their building. Located in the area which is chock a block full with backpacker hostels, Greenhost hotel is offering something different. Whilst many hydroponic gardens in hotel venues are closed for public, in Greenhost hotel guests have access to it. In fact the garden is the most prominent features in this ninety-six room hotel establishment. Rows of greens in growing tubes line the hotel’s corridors at every level that are oriented toward an inner courtyard where a salt water swimming pool is located. In the PVC tubes food crops such as tomatoes, basils, mints and lettuces are grown. Inside the growing tubes, mineral and nutrients-enriched water is circulating to make sure the plants have what it takes to flourish. Greenhost hotel general manager Mr. Arbiter G.M Sarumaha pointed out that water circulation is powered by a low-energy consuming aquarium pump. The inner courtyard is covered by transparent roof to protect the area from the rain but allow sunlight to penetrate. The tubes run parallel along the corridors and strategically positioned so each of the tube has access to sunlight but still can function as railings too. Before the seedlings are transplanted in the growing tubes, seeds are germinated in a separate seedling nursery area.

The growing cycle typically takes about thirty to forty days to complete from the time seeds are sown to the harvesting time. At Greenhost, hotel guests are given opportunity to harvest and taste the fresh vegetables and herbs. The hotel open kitchen then would cook the produce a la minute. Surplus crops are sold to restaurants and retailers. Mr. Sarumaha noted that hotel guests are very enthusiastic about the experience and there is a lot of interests in hydroponic system. Guests are keen to learn more about it as it can be easily replicated even at homes with space constraints. Taking the the virtue of farm to table to heart, the hotel is also actively promoting hydroponic farming practice. Working together with a hydroponic community in Jogjakarta, the hotel organizes workshops to teach people how to start their own garden. Workshops for commercial and industrial hydroponic system are also offered here.

The hydroponic garden and community involvement are not the only features that demonstrate the hotel’s vision in sustainability. Designed by Paulus Mintarga, a Solo-based designer-architect, the building utilized a lot of waste materials such as metal scrapes, pine pallets, leftover timber from a local furniture factory. Here such materials are given a new life as wall cladding and furniture pieces. Mintarga after all is known for his flair in converting waste materials such as timber, glass and metal scrapes that he collects with such great passion into interesting buildings. Mintarga also incorporated some other green features in this hotel project such as LED lights and absorbing well as a part of storm water management. The hotel building is deliberately stripped bare from unnecessary finishing or covering materials thus exposed plastered walls and ceilings can be spotted throughout the hotel. That combined with exposed electricity conduits, utility plumbing network and PVC tubes from the hydroponic system lend the hotel a rustic industrial charm.

Not content with just a hotel and a hydroponic farm the owners also integrated a concept store cum art gallery- Genetika in the building. A co-working space called eCo-working is in the pipeline. The owners aim to attract different group of professions ranging from creative type bunch, tech entrepreneurs, NGO workers, writers, lawyers, traders to students. “The co-working space is for free-radicals who would rather work in a community than in a company office ambiance. eCo-Working Space is so much more than a Co-Working Space, it offers a solution for a community of talented and creative people who desire to work in a new style” Mr. Sarumaha tells Green Asia Force. The members of the co-working space will also benefit from the hydroponic garden. In such an inspiring workspace, we hope that big ideas that can make our world a better and greener place will be made. In the meantime, book a room here, wake up to endless row of green and start your day with a fresh breakfast.

Source: Green Asia Force

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